Introduction to Portrait Drawing

Learn how to accurately and skillfully draw the human face by honing your observational skills and developing a deeper understanding of light, form, and shape.

With its expressive nature, complexity, and individuality, the human face provides captivating subject matter for an artist. This course teaches you how to perceive subtle nuances in facial features through observation. By training your eyes to keenly analyze the interplay of light, form, and shape, you’ll learn to develop a heightened sensitivity to the complexities of the human face and how to represent them in your drawings. 

The course delves into the elements that contribute to impactful and emotionally evocative portraits. You’ll explore the works of renowned artists, studying their techniques, compositional choices, and use of light and shadow to create powerful and moving portraits. 

Under the expert guidance of your instructor, you’ll work from both reference models and photographs to create your own portraits. This beginner course is perfect for anyone seeking to develop accuracy in their drawing and learn skills that can be applied to various representational art forms.  

What you will learn:

✔ Identify techniques and compositional choices used by renowned portrait artists      
✔ Complete a basic block-in or sketch of complex shapes      
✔ Find angles while observing the human face      
✔ Use two forms of measuring to check your drawing’s accuracy      
✔ Properly find the edges and contours of shadow shapes within a form      
✔ Make decisions about what information on the page is worth keeping and what should be erased      
✔ Draw portraits based on photographs and reference models

Join our visual arts classes online and take your skills to the next level.

Register Now

What you need to participate:

  • Computer or mobile device with Internet. Internet speed must be at least 1.5Mbps download and 800Kbps upload. For students using a mobile device, download the Canvas mobile app and select “Interlochen Online” as your school.
  • HB drawing pencil
  • Drawing paper or sketchbook (at least 8.5" x11")
  • Drawing board (at least 20" on the long side)
  • Kneaded eraser
  • X-Acto blade or utility knife
  • 1 piece of sandpaper
  • Masking tape

How the course works:

Interlochen Online courses are designed to be inspiring and flexible with weekly learning units that combine video segments and guided instruction that you can complete on your own schedule during the week. You will interact regularly with your teacher and peers inside the learning environment. 

You can also participate in an optional weekly hour-long video class meeting, where you can learn from the teacher and interact with your classmates in real-time. At the beginning of the course, you will complete a survey indicating your preferred times for the class meeting. The teacher will make every best effort to identify a meeting time that works for everyone. The teacher will also post recordings of the meetings and you can view them when it is convenient. 

The goal is that you walk away not only with practical skills and friendships but that you are inspired and motivated to pursue your art and realize your potential.

Upcoming Course Dates

June 10 - July 5, 2024 | Teen and adult sections

July 15 - Aug. 9, 2024 | Teen and adult sections




Teens: Grades 6-12

Adult Learners: 18+

Future Sessions

Academic Calendar

Meet the Faculty

Alec Zemper

Instructor of Drawing & Painting

Questions? Speak with an Advisor.


Phone: 231.276.5990 

You can also schedule an appointment.